Mixed Methods Research

Pressure to deliver more for less, and to develop public policy that is evidence-based, has greatly spurred the interest in research and evaluation in the United States, United Kingdom and Europe. Alongside randomized controlled trials (RCTs), mixed methods research has become an increasingly popular approach in the discipline fields of sociology, psychology, education and health sciences. Mixed methods research involves integrating quantitative (e.g., experiments, surveys) and qualitative (e.g., focus groups, interviews, observations) data collection and analysis in a single study or program of inquiry. 

By combining quantitative and qualitative research and data, the researcher gains in breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration, while offsetting the weaknesses inherent to using each approach by itself. Mixed methods research allows the investigator to gain a better understanding of research problems and complex phenomena that often involve multiple interacting systems, are replete with social and institutional uncertainties, and for which only imperfect knowledge about their nature and solutions exist (e.g., social inequalities, healthcare, educational access). While mixed methods research has been extensively discussed in literature, there is little information about how commonly it is used, why and how it is used in practice, and its value versus stand-alone quantitative and qualitative studies. Here, we highlight the value of mixed method research and illustrate how powerful it can be when used right.

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